A Piano-Heaven Interview With:

Karen Marie Garrett

 

 

Karen Marie Garrett

 

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Karen Marie Garrett's sensational fourth CD, It's About the Rose was released in January 2007 as a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Allure of Sanctuary. Both albums were produced by the legendary Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records. As well as winning a coveted Piano-Heaven Gold Award, Karen's album was awarded the prestigious NAR Life-style Music Awards "Best Instrumental Piano Album, 2007". Currently busy working on her next album- her fifth CD- Karen kindly took time out to answer some questions relating to her work.

Enjoy the interview...

 

S.C. Congratulations on your new CD! I'm really enjoying it. As much as I loved (and still do), Allure of Sanctuary, It's About the Rose appears to be more daring and original. You seem to really get your creative juices flowing, and experiment with different styles- to great effect! To me, Allure of Sanctuary was a ‘safe’ album, but on It's About the Rose, you're branching out with new ideas, exploring different styles, taking a few risks, yet still managing to retain the melodic charm and beauty of your previous CD- agreed?

 

K.M.G. Thanks, Stephen. Agreed; with the new project I wanted to connect with listeners at various emotional levels and explore that artistically without consideration of genre. It was risky, intriguing, revealing and I loved it... one of the most creative periods of my life!

 

I'm intrigued by the recurring "rose" theme running through the CD. From where did this idea come?

 

The first track It’s About the Rose in the Vase on the Table was titled while writing the music, but the album title and several song titles continued to elude me throughout the yearlong project. It was curious to me, that each piece appeared one after another during this period, seeming somewhat connected and yet I was unable to define the connection with words. I took a walk one afternoon to enjoy a friend’s garden and noticed a beautiful climbing rose embracing a wooden trellis with its rose stems weaving in and out of the trellis. The visual image reminded me of the way music seems to move through us.

 

One of my favourite tracks is Moon Night. To me, this is one of the most upbeat pieces on the album and works extremely well. It's quite a departure from anything on Allure of Sanctuary! How did this piece come about?

 

At the coast one evening, I observed an ocean performance! There was so much movement and energy in the water it seemed to be dancing. And the moon so bright, the rays appeared as stage lights. I snapped a photo [right] and went to the piano!

 

Your previous album, Allure of Sanctuary seems to have been a huge success. Congratulations! You must be happy with the public's response to your album...

 

Thank you! I’m delighted with the response to Allure of Sanctuary. The comments from listeners have been amazing! Touching people emotionally with my music is my ultimate goal, and it is so rewarding to hear from them.

 

I love the entire CD, but there's something extra special about Tip-Toe Dancer. It's beautiful! Would it be fair to say this is the track that has generated the most response? As you were putting the CD together, did you think "this will be the one..."?

 

Thanks, Stephen. Tip-Toe Dancer has generated the most response so far. As you know, the inspiration came from a story Kathryn, a friend of many years, shared with me about her childhood. During gatherings for family and friends, she would ‘Tip-Toe Dance’ pretending to be a ballerina to entertain them. I hoped it would be a special song for listeners, and I'm delighted with the overwhelming response.

 

Allure of Sanctuary- it's an intriguing title. In the CD's notes you say "The Sanctuary" is a retreat for artists in Washington. I'm assuming your addition of "Allure" means you found it an inspirational place in terms of creating music?

 

Yes, I wrote the composition Allure of Sanctuary during a stay at “The Sanctuary”, a visual and performing artists' retreat founded by Cynthia Hayward. It is a beautiful and secluded place where I felt liberated.... hence the title.

 

At what age did you start to play the piano? Was piano playing part of your family life as a child? Did you create your own compositions?

 

The family purchased a used upright piano so I could begin lessons at five years old. Mother loved piano, and greatly influenced my studies. She played as a child, but was reluctant to play in front of us. My father and brother did not play piano; they were deeply involved in sports. And honestly, other family members did not have much of an opportunity to use the piano- it was seldom unoccupied by me.... I loved it! The constant piano music eventually became a sound issue to my father and brother. They tired of listening to their TV sports programmes through earphones. So the piano and I were moved to a large family room on the other side of the home. The room was redesigned as a studio apartment, and I was in heaven now able to practice at any hour without disturbing anyone. I did not begin composing until much later.

 

Your four CDs to date seem to be classically influenced- your first two Pensare and Classical Serenity being collections of pieces from the likes of Bach and Sanucci, Allure of Sanctuary containing pieces by Erik Satie and It's About the Rose includes a piece with reference to Beethoven and Chopin. Are you classically trained? Do you play any other instruments?

 

Yes, I'm Classically trained, and love Classical music. I do not play other instruments at this time.

 

Do you enjoy the work of other pianists in the genre? When you have the time, to what do you enjoy listening?

 

I do enjoy other pianists' works and genres of music as well (instrumental and vocal). I do not have much time to listen to music, but when I do, I enjoy most of all well performed written music.

 

You clearly feel indebted to your producer, Will Ackerman. Securing his services is quite a coup! How did the relationship come about?

 

I asked him on two occasions if he would listen to my recordings and he said yes! I have always admired Will and his great works; he is a truly brilliant and exceptional man of our time. I'm honoured to be working with him.

 

... and with It's About the Rose released, what are your immediate plans for the future?

 

I look forward to sharing the music of both albums Allure of Sanctuary and It’s About the Rose in performance. I’m currently seeking concert venues and supporters. I can’t wait to meet and interact with the fans. And when the opportunity is presented, I’d love to write and record another album.

 

I wish you well with your plans! Finally, I can't end this interview without asking you about your Furry Friends! I take it you're a fan of dogs...

 

Thank you, Stephen! The Furry Friends / Children subject has turned into so much fun. The [sleeve notes for the] song Simple Things on the Allure of Sanctuary CD mentioned furry children as an inspiration because they add so much fun and love to our lives. Listeners began to write and send pictures about their furry friends, so we started a photo album on my website, www.kgpiano.com It's true I am especially fond of dogs, and I can't imagine life without a dog! Currently Abbie (pictured right), a beautiful three year old black labrador is in charge of the house!

Thank you to Karen for the Interview. Be sure to check out reviews of Karen's CDs Allure of Sanctuary and It's About the Rose. They're terrific albums, and well worth buying.

Allure of Sanctuary and It's About the Rose are available from Amazon and CDBaby, together with other music retailers. They're also available from Karen's website, www.kgpiano.com

S.C.

Picture of Karen and Will courtesy of Norbert von der Groeben of Palo Alto Weekly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"It's About the Rose"

Karen Marie Garrett

 

Read the Piano-Heaven review here

 

 

 

 

Inspiration for

Moon Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Williams (left), co-host of Nightscapes (a Boston / Cape Cod radio and web broadcast) with Karen Marie Garrett (right).

 

 

 

Karen and Will

 

 

 

Abbie

 

 

 

 

More Information

 

Karen Marie Garrett's Website

 

Karen Marie Garrett on MySpace